Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When David Cameron's luck finally ran out

Cameron arrived unknown at the top, he didn't "rise without trace" as someone once said about David Frost. He didn't rise at all. He parachuted in. After Hague (bad), IDS (terrible) and Howard (unelectable and very nasty) a neophyte was worth a try. He brought no experience, no discernible ideology and he had never had a proper job. (Carlton was a sinecure). He was young, a good fluent public speaker, academically sound, well connected, rich, had a nice wife (Tories like that) and marketable. But it was a veneer. A thin layer with only chipboard beneath. Before he became leader did he ever write or say anything that anybody noticed? He did not. He was in the right place at the right time and, until now, the luck he had then had held. But when they fall they really do fall - especially the Conservatives. Even the blessed Margaret.

It was the right time to be Leader of the Opposition post the 2005 General Election. It was clear that Blair would have to hand over to the much more vulnerable Brown soon. He did. And lucky Dave was in place as the Brown years became more difficult. Hindsight is already giving Brown credit for what he did as PM and as the most impressive and effective international crisis leader in those difficult times. But he was an easy target, could not rely on personal popularity and by 2010 he should have been slaughtered. But Dave botched it. The LibDem deal was clever and Cameron's luck kept running because Nick Clegg quite liked the idea of power. The Dave and Nick show was a fraud on the British public, but it had legs.

Cameron did nothing in his first term. All was about winning properly in 2015. The brilliant Lynton Crosby set it all up. Buy off the Tory Right with the Referendum pledge. Go hard on the LibDems. Get the media to rubbish Ed Miliband. Let Cameron appear sincere and authoritative. But first win the Scottish referendum of course. Lucky Dave had the rise of the SNP to thank for destroying Labour in Scotland. But on the other hand this rise oh so nearly delivered Scottish independence. Had this happened Cameron would have gone. But the Scots lost their nerve (just!) and lucky Dave won again. And in 2015 Crosby delivered the perfect outcome for the Tory Right. The Coalition gone and the Referendum planned to happen.

After the 2015 General Election Dave needed his luck to hold for one more push. To win the EU Ref should have been easy. The case for "Remain" was indisputable. But Dave couldn't sell it to his own troops let alone in the country. The Tory Right plotted and plotted. Labour imploded. "Leave" had the vile Farage/Banks campaign to appeal to the fearful and the ignorant. The Tory Right watched it all with glee. Unexpectedly their tactic of assuming power with Boris as their chosen leader looked achievable. Dave could be toast! And he was. The Tory Right stumbled and had to accept May not Boris - but they still won. The most brilliant coup in modern British politics succeeded and Cameron bit the dust. He's history. And that's the end of it. A victim in the end of his luck running out.


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